The 12th Annual MultiFaith Banquet, held at Lourdes University in Sylvania on Sunday (April 28), featured the theme of “The Power of Compassion.”
Three hundred people attended the sold-out event in the Franciscan Center at Lourdes, which included tours of the university campus, a display and mixer reception, welcomes extended by representatives of different faiths, a song performed by youth groups, and the induction of eight people in the “Heroes of Compassion.”
The group participated in a Hopi chant that included the refrain, “Unite my people; Be one.”
Valerie Garforth of Trinity Episcopal Church and John Krochmalny of the Baha'i Faith reviewed evidence supporting the MultiFaith Council's efforts to earn the Toledo an official designation as a “Compassionate Community,” including local programs ranging from Feed Your Neighbor to literacy and arts programs.
The 2013 Heroes of Compassion recipients were:
Joe Balderas: Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center – tireless work with at risk youth, community gardens, and the Hispanic community
Wanda Butts: The Josh Project – honors her son’s memory by providing affordable swimming lessons and water safety training to children and their families
Liz Facey: Youth Advocate – provides support to students who are academically at risk of failing the normal curriculum, through Project 100 intervention program at Central Catholic High School and respite to the nursing staff and to the parents of seriously ill infants and children at the Child Life Center at Toledo Children's Hospital
Charlie Johnson: CITE Program (Community Integration & Training for Employment) – founded CITE to provide job readiness training, paid work experience and community service activities to youth on probation with Lucas County Juvenile Court
Sara Mattson: Read for Literacy/Creating Young Readers – program aimed at preschoolers ages 3-5 to develop a love of books, reading and learning to prepare them for kindergarten
Rev Melissa Micham: Glenwood Lutheran Church Giving Store – the store provides nicely displayed clothing and household items to families at no charge
John Shousher: MultiFaith and Multi-Cultural Ambassador – promotes better community relations between all Americans, Arabs, Christians and Jews at City, State and National level
Lisa Strawbridge: UU Kids Care Club and Good Night Bags – encourages Unitarian youth to understand and contribute to social justice in our community. The primary project is the creation and delivery of Good Night Bags, emergency overnight bags, to the American Red Cross and YWCA for children in the Toledo area
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Kuldeep Singh, a leader in the Toledo Sikh community, gave the closing remarks and a “Sending Forth” prayer. Here is a copy of Singh's remarks:
“We have gathered here today not only to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the Multi-Faith Friendship, but also to continue our efforts to fulfill our mission by bringing together diverse faiths and to foster mutual respect, friendship and cooperation among each other. It was none other than the Multi-Faith Council of Northwest Ohio that initiated a campaign to designate Toledo as a compassionate city. We also had the pleasure of finding out those selfless individuals who were deeply involved in compassionate acts and honoring 18 of them last year and 8 of them this year with the 'Heroes of Compassion Awards.'
“The theme of this year's banquet is “Power of Compassion”. In the Sikh Holy Scriptures – Guru Granth Sahib Jee God, the father and mother of the Universe is described as the most compassionate of all His creation. To give you a slight flavor of the Punjabi language of the Sikh Scriptures, I would like to recite a hymn of the prayer in Punjabi and provide you its summary:
“The creator, who is the master of the universe and a real well-wisher of all, is extremely polite in speaking to everyone. Nothing can provoke him to speak harshly to anyone. He is so compassionate that he doesn't even know how to use harsh and bitter words. He has the habit of overlooking our drawbacks and deficiencies. This is his way of purifying people from sins and to reward them even if they take a short step towards self improvement.”
A few minutes ago we heard the evidence of compassionate Toledo and Northwest Ohio. Let us pray to Almighty Lord to grant us the wisdom to work together for a better understanding amongst various communities and play a significant role in making Toledo an even more compassionate community. May we learn that there are many paths that lead to God and may we respect each other's path.
“As we conclude today's session, let us pray to Waheguru, the Lord of Universe, to teach us to promote compassion and mutual respect and strive for peace and harmony amongst us. Let us
learn to appreciate diversity and let us have the courage to reject and oppose hate, injustice and exploitation. As is rightfully revealed in Guru Granth Sahib — our holy Scriptures:
“Ever since I joined the company of compassionate and holy people, my feeling of jealousy and hatred has vanished. I have learnt to get along with each other and I don't see any enemy or
stranger among us.”
“Let us pray to Almighty to grant us the strength to tear the walls that separate us and give us wisdom to reunite the human family.”